European Regional Development Fund: annual implementation report 2021

This Annual Implementation Report (AIR) presents the activities for the European Regional Development Fund for the investment for growth and jobs goal in 2021 with citizen's summary.

The full Annual Implementation Report (AIR) is available as a PDF attached to this page.

Below is a Citizen's Summary which briefly describes supported activity referred to in the AIR.

Citizens Summary 2021: European Regional Development Fund


The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority (MA) of the 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme. Since the adoption of the Operational Programmes in 2015, we have used ERDF support to help achieve our aims of:

  • smart growth – supporting Scotland’s businesses and workforce
  • sustainable growth – making Scotland a greener, cleaner place to live and work

To achieve these aims, the MA has allocated ERDF support to a wide range of activities across Scotland that work towards the social and economic policy objectives of both the Scottish Government and European Commission (EC). Scotland’s ERDF-supported activities include (but are not limited to):

  • Business Competitiveness
    Helping SMEs to become more innovative and to grow in regional, national and international markets.
  • Scotland’s 8th City – The Smart City
    Addressing urban challenges by using new technologies and data, improving sustainability, resilience and service efficiency across all Scottish cities.
  • Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme
    Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy, encouraging investment in technology and development to exploit Scotland’s low-carbon potential.

The MA allocates funding to Lead Partners who then bring their own match funding to increase the total amount available for operations. Lead Partners then distribute funding between individual projects and organisations and/or deliver projects themselves.

Our ERDF Lead Partners are made up of:

  • Scotland’s local authorities
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Transport Scotland
  • NatureScot
  • Zero Waste Scotland
  • other Scottish Government Directorates.

ERDF-supported activity and case studies in 2021

Throughout 2021, many ERDF-supported activities continued to be delivered by our Lead Partners to achieve our aims of smart and sustainable growth in Scotland, assisting many businesses and developing low-carbon solutions in the fields of energy, transport and the environment. By the end of 2021, the total allocation of ERDF grant was £331m.

In May 2021, taking advantage of the EC’s Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) measures, a new ERDF-supported operation was approved by the MA. The COVID-19 Response Fund provides £37m of ERDF grant aid to cover Scottish Government health expenditure during the pandemic.

The £37m allocation helped NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) pay for tens of millions of items of PPE in the face of continued high global demand. Those vital supplies were used to protect NHS colleagues as they treated patients and saved lives in communities across the country.

In December 2021, Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work announced the publication of the 2021 case studies booklet. The booklet celebrates the achievements of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes in Scotland.

It features ten stories from operations supported with ESF and ERDF grant aid that help our aim of boosting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. ERDF case studies include:

  • a vacant piece of land in Glasgow’s Toryglen district that was transformed into a mixed-use park of woodland, active travel routes and outdoor learning areas
  • a new low-carbon energy centre that provides district heating to public buildings in Clydebank and was showcased during COP26 conference

The 2021 case studies booklet can be read in full on the Scottish Government website.

Programme performance

In addition to Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) meetings that examine the performance of the programme, the MA regularly engages with the EC and Lead Partners to seek ways to improve the performance of the programme. Meeting the programme’s N+3 targets and more accurate reporting of the programme’s outputs and results on the EUMIS system remain high priorities for the MA and are frequently referred to as such in its communications to Lead Partners.

To improve the rate of payment of claims from Lead Partners and reduce de-commitment of funds, at the May 2021 meeting of the Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) a new working group was established. The PMC working group in effect acts a sub-group of the PMC to develop solutions in a collaborative way to the slow process of receiving and paying claims from Lead Partners.

Since the establishment of the PMC working group, its members have met monthly and worked together to put forward proposals to improve performance which have been put into place by the MA. The new proposals included a reformed prioritisation process of claims to help the MA meet N+3 targets and revision of risk ratings of operations. The MA looks forward to continuing constructive dialogue with its key stakeholders to improve the overall performance of the 2014-20 ERDF programme.

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